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    Liverpool vs Everton Match Preview

     
    Liverpool will be hoping to further cement their position in the Premier League's top-four with victory over Everton this weekend in the 228th Merseyside derby.

    Both teams come into the match in excellent form, with the home side hoping to continue their unbeaten run against top-seven opponents as well as their dominant record against Everton.

    The Toffees suffered defeat against their local rivals six days before Christmas but have since gone on a run of only one defeat from their last 12 matches, which has put them in contention to qualifying for next season's Champions League.

    Liverpool

    Liverpool have the chance to move level on points with second-place Tottenham with a win against Everton on Saturday, while opening up a seven-point gap over fifth-place Manchester United in the process.

    The first of United's three matches in hand will take place at Old Trafford against West Brom later in the afternoon, while sixth-place Arsenal entertain Manchester City on Sunday with both teams also in the shake-up for Champions League qualification.

    The Reds have a major advantage over most of their top-four rivals, with no FA Cup or European commitments to distract their focus as well as a favourable fixture list for the final nine games of the season.

    Saturday's encounter against Everton appears to be the toughest challenge that Liverpool will face for the remainder of the campaign, although trips to Stoke, West Brom and West Ham remain on the horizon.

    That may prove to be a red herring, however, with Jurgen Klopp's side often producing their best performances against the Premier League's heavyweights while struggling against the so-called lesser lights.

    The club have won six and drawn seven of their past 13 Merseyside derbies including December's 1-0 win at Goodison Park that came courtesy of Sadio Mane's winning goal in the fourth-minute of stoppage-time.

    Liverpool have been dealt a blow ahead of the game, with Adam Lallana sustaining a thigh problem while on international duty which sees him join Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson on the sidelines.

    Everton

    Everton's upturn in form over the past three months appeared to stem from their last-gasp defeat to Liverpool on December 19, which left them trailing their Merseyside neighbours by 14 points in the league table.

    A run of 27 points out of a possible 36 since than, combined with Liverpool's disastrous form in January and February, has left Ronald Koeman's side trailing The Reds by only six points and that could be narrowed further on Saturday.

    Key to The Toffees' revival has been the form of Romelu Lukaku, who became the first Everton player to break the 20-goal barrier in the Premier League era as well as being the division's top-scorer with 21 goals.

    Ross Barkley has also delivered greater consistency with his performances since the turn of the year, while youngsters Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have never looked back since their meteoric rise into the first-team.

    Despite the feel-good factor around the club at the moment, Ronald Koeman's side have not won at Anfield in 17 attempts in all competitions and they last beat their rivals at Goodison Park in October 2010.

    If the club is to achieve a historic win this weekend, they will need to do so without the services of Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori and James McCarthy who all sustained injuries during the international break.

    Everton would climb up to fifth-place in the table if they collect all three points on Saturday, although both Manchester United and Arsenal would swiftly restore order if they win the first of their three matches in hand.

    Liverpool Team News

    Adam Lallana has been ruled out for a month after he sustained a thigh injury in England's 2-0 win over Lithuania and will miss the 228th Merseyside derby.

    Captain Jordan Henderson is still not fit to return having been absent since February 11 with the foot injury that has also caused him to miss the club's last four league matches.

    The derby has also come too soon for striker Daniel Sturridge, who has finally returned to outdoor training having spent nearly two months out with a hip injury.

    Jurgen Klopp is confident that Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino will be ready to feature after the pair returned to Liverpool on Wednesday night having represented their native Brazil on international duty.

    Everton Team News

    Everton were dealt a triple blow during the international break, with Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori and James McCarthy all picking-up injuries that will rule them out of the Merseyside derby.

    Coleman suffered a broken leg in the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Wales, while midfielder McCarthy aggravated a hamstring and was duly removed from the his country's starting line-up minutes before kick-off.

    Defender Funes Mori could miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn meniscus in Argentina's 2-0 defeat against Bolivia on Tuesday night, which forced him to leave the field after 36 minutes.

    Morgan Schneiderlin is still not fit to return after two weeks out with a calf strain, while Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic remain long-term absentees after both sustained anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

    Head-to-head

    Liverpool have dominated the head-to-head against Everton in recent seasons, with The Toffees winning only four matches in all competitions from the 37 matches played since the start of the new millennium.

    Everton's most recent win at Anfield came courtesy of a solitary Kevin Campbell goal in September 1999, while a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park in October 2010 was the last time the blue half of Merseyside came out of top in a derby.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have won six of the last 12 encounters with Everton, which included a 4-0 win at Anfield last season when Divock Origi, Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho scored for the home team.

    The Reds lead the way in terms of their overall record in Merseyside derbies, with 90 wins and 71 draws coming from the previous 227 matches over the past 123 years.

    Score Prediction

    Liverpool 1-1 Everton
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool vs Everton Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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